A sheep in the UK. The UK should farm trees, not sheep

The UK should ‘farm’ trees, not sheep

Grantham Centre experts publish research that suggests sheep farming in the UK and Europe should be radically rethought. 

Specifically, research shows that sheep farmers would not need government subsidies if they let native trees spread to their land, instead of using it for sheep. Further, they could sell credits for the carbon dioxide the new forests would absorb.

Given that so-called developing countries are usually the subject of reforesting efforts. Whereas this paper says that developed nations need to take responsibility for their own history of destroying forests.

Farm trees not sheep research makes the news

This study – touching as it does on Brexit and the complexities of farming and sustainability – has made a splash in the news.

Channel 4 presenter Alex Thompson tweeted about it and had hundreds of replies. Warning: not all of them are suitable for work!









A few days later George Monbiot picked up the research when The Conversation published an article about it.

Twitter got pretty excited about this research. In order to keep up with all that was said, we created a Twitter moment. Follow this link to find out more: https://twitter.com/i/events/1308795655301857280

Newspaper coverage

The story has also been covered in a range of national and local newspapers and other outlets. These include:

The Telegraph
Mail Online
Yorkshire Post
Yahoo UK
Belfast Telegraph
Northern Echo
Wiltshire Times
South Wales Guardian
This is Lancashire
i News
The Scotsman

Find out more about the research

The University of Sheffield has a great summary of this research which you can read here. It includes this quote from Colin Osborne: “Using public money to actively prevent reforestation in the UK and Europe is morally questionable given the pressure western governments place on the global south to end tropical deforestation.’

If you want to read the paper itself then you can find it in Environmental Research Letters. Follow the link to read: Forest regeneration on European sheep pasture is an economically viable climate change mitigation strategy by Ms Connie O’Neill, Mr Felix K.S. Lim, Dr David P Edwards and Professor Colin P Osborne.

The paper is open access, so is free to read. It is published in Environmental Research Letters.

Co-author Felix Lim is a Grantham Scholar. Colin Osborne was our Associate Director and is currently a Grantham supervisor. David Edwards is also a Grantham supervisor.

Image credit: Magnus Martinsen from Pexels